MLB Moneyball Power Rankings: Which Team Got the Most Value from 2021 Roster?

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2021

MLB Moneyball Power Rankings: Which Team Got the Most Value from 2021 Roster?

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    Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

    The Moneyball philosophy of roster building and ever-growing implementation of advanced statistics has profoundly impacted the way MLB teams are assembled.

    Whether it's a small-market club facing a payroll crunch or a large-market team with a seemingly endless cash flow, every dollar has to be spent with a clear purpose.

    It's all about getting the most value out of players, from pre-arbitration guys contributing at young ages to big-money stars living up to their lofty paychecks.

    So, which club got the most value out of its payroll in 2021?


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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    There are a lot of numbers to digest in the following article, so allow me to offer an explanation.

    Total Net Value was the ultimate factor in determining where each team landed in the rankings and was calculated as follows:

    Step 1: I found each player's WAR total for the 2021 season, courtesy of Baseball Reference.

    Step 2: Based on the FanGraphs value system, 1.0 WAR was again worth around $8 million in 2021. So from there, each player's WAR from Step 1 was multiplied by eight to give us the player's 2021 value in millions of dollars.

    Step 3: Each player's 2021 salary was then subtracted from his 2021 value, resulting in his 2021 net value. Player salaries came from the team pages of Spotrac

    • Formula: (2021 WAR x 8) - 2021 salary = net value

    After that, the cumulative net values of all players who were part of the MLB payroll at any point in 2021 were totaled to determine each team's total net value.

    Included is a look at each team's five best and five worst values, along with a few bullet points for each club that consist of notable observations.

    For those of you looking for a complete picture of your favorite team, a link to a full breakdown in the form of a Google Sheets document can be found under the total net value for each club.

30. Los Angeles Angels

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    Shohei Ohtani
    Shohei OhtaniSarah Stier/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: -$3.8 million


    5 Best Values

    • DH/SP Shohei Ohtani: +$69 million
    • 1B Jared Walsh: +$21.8 million
    • SP Patrick Sandoval: +$16.3 million
    • SP Jose Suarez: +$14 million
    • RP Raisel Iglesias: +$13.3 million

    With a $3 million salary and an MLB-leading 9.0 WAR in the first season of a two-year, $8.5 million contract that bought out a pair of his arbitration years, Shohei Ohtani was baseball's most valuable player. Only three other players eclipsed $50 million in net value, and no one else topped $60 million.


    5 Worst Values

    • 1B Albert Pujols: -$35.2 million
    • OF Justin Upton: -$28.6 million
    • 3B Anthony Rendon: -$28.1 million
    • OF Mike Trout: -$22.8 million
    • SP Jose Quintana: -$13.7 million

    Albert Pujols, Justin Upton, Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout earned a combined $117.9 million in 2021 and produced just 0.4 WAR, with all of the positive WAR coming from Trout's 1.8 mark in the 36 games he played.

29. Chicago Cubs

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    Willson Contreras
    Willson ContrerasQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$4.6 million


    5 Best Values

    • C Willson Contreras: +$26.2 million
    • 3B Patrick Wisdom: +$17.2 million
    • OF Rafael Ortega: +$14.8 million
    • 1B Frank Schwindel: +$13.4 million
    • IF Matt Duffy: +$11 million

    Willson Contreras was one of just six catchers to provide at least $20 million in net value, checking in fourth on that list behind Salvador Perez (+$28.2M), Mike Zunino (+$27.6M) and Will Smith (+$27.4M). He will be a free agent for the first time following the 2022 season.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Jake Arrieta: -$22.8 million
    • OF Jason Heyward: -$20.3 million
    • SP Zach Davies: -$16.6 million
    • RP Trevor Megill: -$8.3 million
    • RP Michael Rucker: -$8.2 million

    It speaks to how awful Jake Arrieta was in 2021 that he ranks as the Cubs' worst net value, ahead of Jason Heyward and his bloated $23.5 million salary. In 20 starts, Arrieta had a 6.88 ERA, 1.76 WHIP and surrendered a .315 opponents' batting average.

28. Baltimore Orioles

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    Cedric Mullins
    Cedric MullinsMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +10.8 million


    5 Best Values

    • OF Cedric Mullins: +$45.0 million
    • SP John Means: +$31.4 million
    • OF Austin Hays: +$25.0 million
    • RP Cole Sulser: +$17.9 million
    • IF Ramon Urias: +$15.5 million

    Cedric Mullins trailed only Tyler O'Neill (+$50.6M), Juan Soto (+$47.5M) and Bryan Reynolds (+$47.4) in net value among outfielders, turning in the first 30/30 season in Orioles history while earning just $577,000 as a pre-arbitration player.


    5 Worst Values

    • 1B Chris Davis: -$17.0 million
    • IF Pat Valaika: -$15.0 million
    • 3B Maikel Franco: -$12.8 million
    • RP Adam Plutko: -$8.4 million
    • SS Richie Martin: -$8.3 million

    Slugger Chris Davis retired in August, six seasons into his seven-year, $161 million contract. While he launched 38 home runs in 2016, he finished with a .196 average, 80 OPS+, 36 percent strikeout rate and minus-2.7 WAR over the life of the deal.

27. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Zac Gallen
    Zac GallenNorm Hall/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$11.3 million


    5 Best Values

    • SP Zac Gallen: +$17.8 million
    • C Carson Kelly: +$15.9 million
    • IF Eduardo Escobar: +$13.4 million
    • SP Merrill Kelly: +$13.4 million
    • C/OF Daulton Varsho: +$13.2 million

    The D-backs were the only team in baseball that did not have a $20 million net-value player, though Zac Gallen and Carson Kelly might have gotten there if not for injuries. Ketel Marte (+$8.4M) also missed significant time but still logged positive value on his $6 million salary.


    5 Worst Values

    • OF Kole Calhoun: -$8.8 million
    • RP Alex Young: -$8.3 million
    • RP J.B. Bukauskas: -$7.5 million
    • RP Brett de Geus: -$6.7 million
    • OF Tim Locastro: -$6.7 million

    The two-year, $16 million contract that Kole Calhoun signed prior to the 2020 season looked like a good bargain at the time, as he was fresh off a 33-homer, 1.6-WAR campaign. After launching 16 home runs during the shortened 2020 season, he hit .235 with an 81 OPS+ and minus-0.1 WAR in the second year of the deal.

26. Texas Rangers

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    Adolis Garcia
    Adolis GarciaTim Warner/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$31.3 million


    5 Best Values

    • OF Adolis Garcia: +$29.9 million
    • SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa: +$28.4 million
    • OF Joey Gallo: +$26.6 million
    • 1B Nathaniel Lowe: +$18.6 million
    • SP Kyle Gibson: +$15.8 million

    The new middle-infield tandem of Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Nick Solak (+$7.5M) proved to be one of the more valuable spots on the Texas roster. Rookie Andy Ibanez (+$13.2M) also provided significant positive value while bouncing around the infield.


    5 Worst Values

    • DH Khris Davis: -$18.4 million
    • 2B Rougned Odor: -$11.8 million
    • OF David Dahl: -$10.7 million
    • SP Spencer Howard: -$9.8 million
    • SP Jordan Lyles: -$9.6 million

    Designated hitter Khris Davis and second baseman Rougned Odor were the two highest earners on the Rangers roster in 2021, and they played a combined 22 games for the team while finishing their seasons elsewhere.

25. Washington Nationals

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    Juan Soto
    Juan SotoG Fiume/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$36.4 million


    5 Best Values

    • OF Juan Soto: +$47.5 million
    • SS Trea Turner: +$23.6 million
    • 2B Josh Harrison: +$20.1 million
    • 1B Josh Bell: +$18.5 million
    • C Yan Gomes: +$12.9 million

    While three of the Nationals' top five values finished the season elsewhere, and Josh Bell could be on his way out the door this winter as he enters his final year before free agency, shortstop Alcides Escobar (+$11.7M) deserves a tip of the cap. The 34-year-old returned to the big leagues for the first time since 2018 and posted 1.6 WAR in 75 games to earn a one-year extension in October.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Patrick Corbin: -$32.4 million
    • SP Stephen Strasburg: -$22.8 million
    • SP Erick Fedde: -$11.8 million
    • RP Wander Suero: -$10.1 million
    • RP Will Harris: -$9.6 million

    Only injured ace Justin Verlander, who earned $33 million and missed the entire season after Tommy John surgery, posted more negative value among pitchers than Patrick Corbin. The left-hander edged Jake Arrieta (-$27.7M) and Carlos Martinez (-$23.7M) for the bottom spot among active pitchers. 

24. New York Mets

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    Pete Alonso
    Pete AlonsoJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$49.7 million


    5 Best Values

    • 1B Pete Alonso: +$32.9 million
    • OF Brandon Nimmo: +$24.1 million
    • RP Aaron Loup: +$19.2 million
    • SP Jacob deGrom: +$18 million
    • 2B Javier Baez: +$15 million

    The Mets deferred $13.5 million of Jacob deGrom's 2021 salary to 2036 as part of a $52.5 million deferral on his five-year, $137.5 million contract. That allowed him to still post a positive net value in 2021 despite missing the entire second half with forearm tightness.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Carlos Carrasco: -$19.2 million
    • RP Jeurys Familia: -$16.7 million
    • SP Noah Syndergaard: -$10.5 million
    • C James McCann: -$9.8 million
    • OF Dominic Smith: -$8.2 million

    For all the talk of how disappointing his Mets debut was this year, Francisco Lindor (+$2.5M) still managed to provide positive value on his $22.3 million salary. That figure jumps to $34.1 million in 2022 and stays there until 2031, so he'll need to bounce back to remain in the black.

23. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Bryan Reynolds
    Bryan ReynoldsJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$53.4 million


    5 Best Values

    • OF Bryan Reynolds: +$47.4 million
    • C Jacob Stallings: +$22.7 million
    • 2B Adam Frazier: +$20.7 million
    • 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes: +$18.6 million
    • RP David Bednar: +$16.2 million

    Bryan Reynolds accounted for just 1.3 percent of the Pittsburgh Pirates' overall salary, yet his production amounted to 88.8 percent of the team's total net value. The 26-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and projected for a healthy raise to $4.5 million.


    5 Worst Values

    • OF Gregory Polanco: -$21.4 million
    • RP Cody Ponce: -$8.2 million
    • RP Luis Oviedo: -$7.8 million
    • C Michael Perez: -$7 million
    • SP Trevor Cahill: -$5.5 million

    The five-year, $35 million extension that Gregory Polanco signed in 2016 looked like a team-friendly stroke of genius at the time. Instead, he hit just .231 with a 91 OPS+ and minus-0.5 WAR in 437 games over the life of the deal before he was released in August.

22. Minnesota Twins

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    Jorge Polanco
    Jorge PolancoBrace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$68.3 million


    5 Best Values

    • 2B Jorge Polanco: +$34.1 million
    • OF Byron Buxton: +$30.9 million
    • IF/OF Luis Arraez: +$26.6 million
    • C Mitch Garver: +$14.9 million
    • OF Max Kepler: +$10.3 million

    There was technically a tie for the fifth spot, with Jose Berrios (+$10.3M) matching the positive net value that Max Kepler produced. However, he finished the season in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform, so the tie went to the player who stuck around all year. The value that Byron Buxton produced in 61 games is absurd.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP J.A. Happ: -$19.6 million
    • SP Matt Shoemaker: -$16.4 million
    • SP Randy Dobnak: -$11.1 million
    • RP Alex Colome: -$10.6 million
    • SP Griffin Jax: -$9.1 million

    J.A Happ (one year, $8M) and Matt Shoemaker (one year, $2M) were the big offseason additions to the Twins rotation. They made 35 combined appearances and posted a 7.26 ERA in 158.2 innings before Happ was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals at the deadline and Shoemaker was released in August.

21. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Ranger Suarez
    Ranger SuarezRich Schultz/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$87.3 million


    5 Best Values

    • SP/RP Ranger Suarez: +$45.9 million
    • SP Zack Wheeler: +$39.1 million
    • OF Bryce Harper: +$19.7 million
    • C J.T. Realmuto: +$17.2 million
    • 2B Jean Segura: +$14.8 million

    Reliever-turned-starter Ranger Suarez provided the second-most net value of any pitcher, trailing only Walker Buehler (+$49.9M). Let that sink in for a minute. Also a tip of the cap to Bryce Harper ($27.5M) and Zack Wheeler ($22.5M), who had the two largest salaries on the team and still earned a best-value spot.


    5 Worst Values

    • SS Didi Gregorius: -$20 million
    • C Andrew Knapp: -$13.1 million
    • 3B Alec Bohm: -$10.9 million
    • OF Andrew McCutchen: -$9.6 million
    • SP Matt Moore: -$9.4 million

    The left side of the infield was not a strength for the Phillies in 2021, and they still owe shortstop Didi Gregorius another $15.3 million in the second season of a two-year, $28 million contract. Can Alec Bohm bounce back after looking like a budding star as a rookie in 2020?

20. San Diego Padres

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    Fernando Tatis Jr.
    Fernando Tatis Jr.Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$107.7 million


    5 Best Values

    • SS Fernando Tatis Jr.: +$50.3 million
    • 2B Jake Cronenworth: +$37.8 million
    • OF Trent Grisham: +$25.8 million
    • SP Joe Musgrove: +$23.6 million
    • RP Mark Melancon: +$12.8 million

    With a salary of just $1.7 million, Fernando Tatis Jr. ranks among the best values in the sport. That will climb to $5.7 million in 2022, $7.7 million in 2023, $11.7 million in 2024 and $20.7 million in 2025, but he still figures to be a bargain at each of those price points as long as he stays healthy.


    5 Worst Values

    • 1B/OF Wil Myers: -$15.3 million
    • 1B Eric Hosmer: -$13 million
    • SP Yu Darvish: -$8.6 million
    • SP Chris Paddack: -$7 million
    • SP Jake Arrieta: -$4.9 million

    The Padres are almost out from under the Wil Myers contract, with just one year and $22.5 million remaining on his six-year, $83 million deal (club option for 2023). The same can't be said of Eric Hosmer, who is still owed $60 million over the next four years, though his salary does dip from $21 million to $13 million annually after 2022.

19. Detroit Tigers

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    Jeimer Candelario
    Jeimer CandelarioIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$108.8 million


    5 Best Values

    • 3B Jeimer Candelario: +$26.8 million
    • SP Casey Mize: +$25.9 million
    • OF Robbie Grossman: +$16.9 million
    • OF Akil Baddoo: +$16.2 million
    • RP Tyler Alexander: +$15.4 million

    A veteran outfielder who signed a modest two-year, $10 million deal, a Rule 5 pick, and a 27-year-old lefty swingman occupy the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 best value spots on the Tigers roster. The front office has quietly done an excellent job finding value in the margins, and that's going to pay off once rgw the team turns back toward contention.


    5 Worst Values

    • DH Miguel Cabrera: -$34 million
    • RP Bryan Garcia: -$10 million
    • OF JaCoby Jones: -$8.3 million
    • SP Jose Urena: -$7.5 million
    • IF Willi Castro: -$6.2 million

    From his home run in the snow to the 500th homer of his storied career, Miguel Cabrera provided plenty of memories in 2021. The 38-year-old didn't come close to living up to his $30 million salary, though. He is still owed another $72 million the next two years, including an $8 million buyout on his 2024 club option.

18. Kansas City Royals

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    Nicky Lopez
    Nicky LopezNic Antaya/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$112.6 million


    5 Best Values

    • SS Nicky Lopez: +$33 million
    • C Salvador Perez: +$28.2 million
    • RP Scott Barlow: +$22.6 million
    • 2B Whit Merrifield: +$21.4 million
    • OF Michael A. Taylor: +$18 million

    The Royals got tremendous value up the middle with catcher Salvador Perez, second baseman Whit Merrifield, shortstop Nicky Lopez and center fielder Michael A. Taylor all checking in among the club's five best values. Now they need to find similar value on the mound.


    5 Worst Values

    • 3B/OF Hunter Dozier: -$22.5 million
    • DH Jorge Soler: -$16.4 million
    • SP Jackson Kowar: -$12.1 million
    • 1B Carlos Santana: -$8.1 million
    • DH Ryan O'Hearn: -$7.6 million

    World Series MVP Jorge Soler provided +$5.2 million in net value to the Atlanta Braves after he was shipped out at the trade deadline, but he was hitting just .192 with minus-1.4 WAR at the time of the trade, making him one of the worst values on the Kansas City roster.

17. New York Yankees

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    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeJayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$124.1 million


    5 Best Values

    • OF Aaron Judge: +$37 million
    • RP Jonathan Loaisiga: +$25.8 million
    • SP Jordan Montgomery: +$25.1 million
    • SP Nestor Cortes Jr.: +$22 million
    • RP Chad Green: +$17.1 million

    Relievers Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green chewed through a combined 154.1 innings, tallying 11 saves and 36 holds while pitching to a 2.68 ERA in a variety of roles. Crafty southpaw Nestor Cortes Jr. provided 93 innings of 2.90 ERA work while earning $386,442 after signing a minor league deal.


    5 Worst Values

    • RP Zack Britton: -$16.2 million
    • OF Clint Frazier: -$13.3 million
    • OF Aaron Hicks: -$13.2 million
    • SP Luis Severino: -$8.4 million
    • RP Nick Nelson: -$7.4 million

    Despite his $29 million salary, Giancarlo Stanton (-$4.2M) avoided a spot among the team's worst values. He still has six years and $169 million remaining on his massive 13-year contract, and his salary jumps to $32 million starting in 2023.

16. Colorado Rockies

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    Ryan McMahon
    Ryan McMahonQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$132 million


    5 Best Values

    • 2B/3B Ryan McMahon: +$28.8 million
    • 1B C.J. Cron: +$26.2 million
    • SP German Marquez: +$19.4 million
    • C Elias Diaz: +$16.3 million
    • SS Trevor Story: +$15.1 million

    For what it's worth, Ryan McMahon (+28.8M) provided more net value than Nolan Arenado (+$13M) did in 2021. The 26-year-old replaced the former face of the franchise as the team's starting third baseman and tallied 4.0 WAR while playing on a $2.4 million salary.


    5 Worst Values

    • OF Charlie Blackmon: -$14.1 million
    • RP Yency Almonte: -$9.4 million
    • SP Chi Chi Gonzalez: -$6.7 million
    • RP Justin Lawrence: -$5.8 million
    • RP Ben Bowden: -$5.3 million

    Charlie Blackmon has already exercised a $21.3 million player option for 2022, and he has another player option worth $18.3 million in 2023. The 35-year-old hit .270/.351/.411 with 25 doubles, 13 home runs and 78 RBI this year, good for a 96 OPS+ and 1.0 WAR in 150 games.

15. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Tyler O'Neill
    Tyler O'NeillQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$137.8 million


    5 Best Values

    • OF Tyler O'Neill: +$50.6 million
    • OF Harrison Bader: +$29.2 million
    • 2B Tommy Edman: +$29 million
    • SS Edmundo Sosa: +$25 million
    • OF Dylan Carlson: +$25 million

    In what may come as a surprise to many, Tyler O'Neill had the highest net value of an outfielder and the third-highest net value of any player, trailing only Shohei Ohtani (+$69M) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (+$53.8M). The 26-year-old was a 6.3-WAR player playing on a $594,700 salary.


    5 Worst Values

    • IF Matt Carpenter: -$26.5 million
    • SP Carlos Martinez: -$23.7 million
    • SP Miles Mikolas: -$18.4 million
    • RP Andrew Miller: -$13.6 million
    • RP Tyler Webb: -$11.4 million

    The Cardinals are officially out from under two of baseball's worst values in 2021. Matt Carpenter was given a $2 million buyout on a $12 million club option, while Carlos Martinez received a $500,000 buyout on a $17 million club option. That should help give them some flexibility this winter.

14. Seattle Mariners

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    Ty France
    Ty FranceSteph Chambers/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$140.1 million


    5 Best Values

    • 1B Ty France: +$33.8 million
    • SS J.P. Crawford: +$28.4 million
    • SP Chris Flexen: +$26.3 million
    • OF Mitch Haniger: +$20.2 million
    • RP Drew Steckenrider: +$20 million

    These players are, in order: a Quad-A player seeing his first extended action, a former top prospect finally delivering on expectations, a 27-year-old starter returning from a stint in the KBO, an outfielder who missed most of the last two seasons recovering from a gruesome injury, and a non-roster invitee to spring training who found his way into the closer's role. Well done, Jerry DiPoto.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Justus Sheffield: -$15 million
    • OF Jarred Kelenic: -$14.7 million
    • RP Rafael Montero: -$14.5 million
    • SP James Paxton: -$8.5 million
    • RP Nick Margevicius: -$6.2 million

    Kyle Seager (-$3.3M) and Yusei Kikuchi (-$2.1M) were the highest-paid players on the Seattle roster by a good margin, yet they managed to avoid finding their way onto the worst values list. Both of those players are now free agents, adding to Seattle's already significant financial flexibility.

13. Miami Marlins

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    Sandy Alcantara
    Sandy AlcantaraEric Espada/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$149 million


    5 Best Values

    • SP Sandy Alcantara: +$30.6 million
    • SP Trevor Rogers: +$25.8 million
    • SP Pablo Lopez: +$21 million
    • 2B Jazz Chisholm: +$18.6 million
    • SS Miguel Rojas: +$15 million

    Along with the trio of standout starters atop the list, the Marlins also had Zach Thompson (+$6.8M) and Elieser Hernandez (+$2.6M) register positive net values. There is little question pitching is the strength of the organization. Now it needs to find more impact hitters to combine with rising star Jazz Chisholm.


    5 Worst Values

    • 2B Isan Diaz: -$11.6 million
    • IF Joe Panik: -$9 million
    • C Sandy Leon: -$8.3 million
    • RP Paul Campbell: -$8.1 million
    • OF Corey Dickerson: -$8.1 million

    The fact that Isan Diaz tops the worst values list has everything to do with his lack of production (-1.4 WAR) and nothing to do with his salary ($352,705). With Joe Panik, Sandy Leon and Corey Dickerson all off the books, there really isn't a bad contract in Miami.

12. Boston Red Sox

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    Enrique Hernandez
    Enrique HernandezElsa/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$159.2 million


    5 Best Values

    • IF/OF Enrique Hernandez: +$34.7 million
    • 3B Rafael Devers: +$23.4 million
    • RP Garrett Whitlock: +$23.4 million
    • SP Nick Pivetta: +$20.2 million
    • SP Nathan Eovaldi: +$19.8 million

    The two-year, $14 million contract that Enrique Hernandez signed last offseason ended up being one of the best bargains of the winter, as he posted a 4.9-WAR season in his Red Sox debut. Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock ranked second in net value among all relievers, behind only Jonathan Loaisiga (+$25.8M).


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Chris Sale: -$12.0 million
    • SP Garrett Richards: -$7.1 million
    • RP Matt Andriese: -$6.7 million
    • IF Marwin Gonzalez: -$6.2 million
    • OF Jarren Duran: -$5.8 million

    In his defense, Chris Sale had a 3.16 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 42.2 innings once he returned to the mound in August after his recovery from Tommy John surgery. The fact that $10 million of his $30 million salary is deferred helped his 2021 net value, but it's still hard to deliver eight-figure value when you only make nine starts.

11. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Walker Buehler
    Walker BuehlerMichael Owens/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$170.9 million


    5 Best Values

    • SP Walker Buehler: +$49.9 million
    • SP Julio Urias: +$34 million
    • 1B Max Muncy: +$30.2 million
    • C Will Smith: +$27.4 million
    • SP Max Scherzer: +$19.2 million

    With the largest payroll in baseball by nearly $70 million at a staggering $271.2 million, it's a credit to the Los Angeles Dodgers front office that they are knocking on the door for a spot in the top 10 of these rankings. It doesn't matter how much money you have to spend if you don't spend it in the right way.


    5 Worst Values

    • 1B/OF Cody Bellinger: -$28.1 million
    • SP Clayton Kershaw: -$12.6 million
    • RP David Price: -$10.4 million
    • SP Trevor Bauer: -$9.7 million
    • 3B Edwin Rios: -$7 million

    Not included in the worst values but accounted for in the team's total net value, the Dodgers paid Scott Kazmir $8 million in deferred money and prospect flop Yasiel Sierra $8.5 million in dead money, or they would have ranked even higher. Will Cody Bellinger be non-tendered?

10. Atlanta Braves

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    Austin Riley
    Austin RileyDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$178.6 million


    5 Best Values

    • 3B Austin Riley: +$48.2 million
    • SP Max Fried: +$39.7 million
    • 2B Ozzie Albies: +$24.2 million
    • OF Ronald Acuna Jr.: +$23.8 million
    • SP Ian Anderson: +$21.0 million

    The early extensions that Ronald Acuna Jr. (eight years, $100M) and Ozzie Albies (seven years, $35M) signed are going consistently put them among the best net values in baseball in the coming years. Breakout star Austin Riley (+$48.2M) was the best value among third basemen, beating out Jose Ramirez (+$44.2M).


    5 Worst Values

    • OF Marcell Ozuna: -$17.6 million
    • SP Drew Smyly: -$7.8 million
    • C Kevan Smith: -$7.5 million
    • OF Ender Inciarte: -$6.9 million
    • OF Abraham Almonte: -$6.9 million

    Considering he was the second-worst value on the team, Drew Smyly didn't have all that bad of a season. The 32-year-old signed a one-year, $11 million deal last offseason, and he went 11-4 with a 4.48 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 126.2 innings.

9. Cincinnati Reds

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    Wade Miley
    Wade MileyJoe Sargent/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$180.3 million


    5 Best Values

    • SP Wade Miley: +$39.9 million
    • SP Tyler Mahle: +$37 million
    • SP Luis Castillo: +$34.2 million
    • 2B Jonathan India: +$30.6 million
    • OF Jesse Winker: +$18.5 million

    Only 16 pitchers provided at least $30 million in net value, and the Cincinnati Reds were one of just two teams with three players on that list, joining the Chicago White Sox. But they inexplicably waived Wade Miley to begin the offseason and are shopping Luis Castillo, per MLB Network's Jon Paul Morosi, as they turn their attention to trimming payroll.


    5 Worst Values

    • IF Mike Moustakas: -$22.0 million
    • IF Eugenio Suarez: -$16.4 million
    • OF Shogo Akiyama: -$15.8 million
    • RP Michael Feliz: -$5.6 million
    • RP Brad Brach: -$5.2 million

    The four-year, $64 million contract that Mike Moustakas signed before the 2020 season might rival the Homer Bailey deal as the worst in franchise history before it's over. Two years into the pact, the 33-year-old infielder has an 83 OPS+ and minus-0.8 WAR in 106 games.

8. Cleveland Guardians

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    Jose Ramirez
    Jose RamirezSam Hodde/Associated Press

    Total Net Value: +$205.8 million


    5 Best Values

    • 3B Jose Ramirez: +$44.2 million
    • SP Cal Quantrill: +$29.8 million
    • RP Emmanuel Clase: +$21.8 million
    • SP Shane Bieber: +$20.1 million
    • SP Aaron Civale: +$16.2 million

    Cal Quantrill spent the first two months of the 2021 season pitching out of the bullpen before injuries opened a spot for him in the rotation. The No. 8 pick in the 2016 draft had a 1.94 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 88 innings after the All-Star break, and he rattled off seven straight quality starts to end the year.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP J.C. Mejia: -$9.9 million
    • IF Owen Miller: -$9.1 million
    • SP Sam Hentges: -$8.5 million
    • C Roberto Perez: -$6.3 million
    • SP Logan Allen: -$5.8 million

    Catcher is an obvious need for the Guardians after Roberto Perez (-$6.3M) and Austin Hedges (-$3.3M) both provided negative value. Perez had his club option declined, while Hedges is a non-tender candidate with a $3.8 million projected salary in arbitration.

6 (tie). Oakland Athletics

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    Matt Olson
    Matt OlsonLachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$222.3 million


    5 Best Values

    • 1B Matt Olson: +$41.4 million
    • SP Frankie Montas: +$27.8 million
    • SP Chris Bassitt: +$27.1 million
    • IF/OF Tony Kemp: +$27 million
    • 3B Matt Chapman: +$21.5 million

    The Athletics had 14 players provide at least $10 million in net value, including trade deadline pickups Starling Marte (+$15M) and Andrew Chafin (+$10.4M). With infielders Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and pitchers Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea all due significant arbitration raises, some big names could be on the move this offseason.


    5 Worst Values

    • OF Stephen Piscotty: -$13.2 million
    • RP Trevor Rosenthal: -$11 million
    • SP Jesus Luzardo: -$7.5 million
    • SP Mike Fiers: -$5.9 million
    • 2B Josh Harrison: -$4.3 million

    The one-year, $11 million contract that Trevor Rosenthal signed last offseason accounted for 12.3 percent of the Oakland payroll, but he underwent thoracic outlet surgery in April and never threw a regular-season pitch. It's worth noting that Lou Trivino (+$8.7M) filled in nicely in the ninth-inning role.

6 (tie). Houston Astros

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    Carlos Correa
    Carlos CorreaIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$222.3 million


    5 Best Values

    • SS Carlos Correa: +$46.7 million
    • OF Kyle Tucker: +$45 million
    • DH Yordan Alvarez: +$23.4 million
    • 1B Yuli Gurriel: +$21.1 million
    • SP Lance McCullers Jr.: +$20.1 million

    Outfielders Chas McCormick (+$17.8M), Myles Straw (+$10.8M) and Jake Meyers (+$9.4M) didn't crack the five best values, but they deserve a ton of credit for the job they did replacing the production that was lost when George Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Justin Verlander: -$33 million
    • SP Zack Greinke: -$15.1 million
    • RP Bryan Abreu: -$7.6 million
    • RP Joe Smith: -$6.5 million
    • RP Brooks Raley: -$5.2 million

    Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke earned a combined $57.7 million in 2021, and now both future Hall of Famers hit the open market. That money should help the Astros address their need for bullpen assistance and at least a short-term solution at shortstop.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Corbin Burnes
    Corbin BurnesPatrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$239.4 million


    5 Best Values

    • SP Corbin Burnes: +$45 million
    • SP Brandon Woodruff: +$42.3 million
    • SP Freddy Peralta: +$29.1 million
    • SS Willy Adames: +$27.6 million
    • 2B Kolten Wong: +$24.4 million

    The dominant rotation trio of Corbin Burnes (third), Brandon Woodruff (fifth) and Freddy Peralta (19th) each earned a spot among the top 20 most valuable pitchers. Second baseman Kolten Wong had $5 million in deferred money on his $7 million salary, so that helped inflate his 2021 net value a bit.


    5 Worst Values

    • OF Jackie Bradley Jr.: -$12.1 million
    • IF Keston Hiura: -$8.3 million
    • RP Josh Lindblom: -$7.8 million
    • RP John Curtiss: -$6.6 million
    • RP Justin Topa: -$5.3 million

    Christian Yelich (-$4.4M) will see his salary climb from $14 million to $22 million in 2022, which is going to make it increasingly difficult for him to stay off the worst values list if he can't find some semblance of his previous MVP-caliber form.

4. Chicago White Sox

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    Carlos Rodon
    Carlos RodonJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$254.5 million


    5 Best Values

    • SP Carlos Rodon: +$37.8 million
    • SP Lance Lynn: +$33.9 million
    • SP Lucas Giolito: +$31.1 million
    • SS Tim Anderson: +$29.6 million
    • OF Luis Robert: +$25.2 million

    Along with their trio of $30 million net-value starting pitchers who all ranked among the top 15 best pitching values, Dylan Cease (+$22.6 million) also made a significant impact for the White Sox with a 2.9-WAR season while earning just $600,000.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Dallas Keuchel: -$17.2 million
    • 2B Cesar Hernandez: -$8.1 million
    • OF Adam Eaton: -$7.8 million
    • RP Craig Kimbrel: -$5.6 million
    • OF Brian Goodwin: -$4.6 million

    The second-highest-paid player on the White Sox roster and a 2015 Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel found himself left off the postseason roster after he posted a 5.28 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in 162 innings. The 33-year-old is owed $18 million in the final season of a three-year, $55.5 million deal in 2022.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

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    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Mark Blinch/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$267.9 million


    5 Best Values

    • 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: +$53.8 million
    • SS Bo Bichette: +$47.4 million
    • SP Robbie Ray: +$44.8 million
    • 2B Marcus Semien: +$39.6 million
    • OF Teoscar Hernandez: +$26.9 million

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (No. 1 1B), Marcus Semien (No. 1 2B), Bo Bichette (No. 2 SS) and Robbie Ray (No. 4 SP) all rank among the top five values at their respective positions, while supporting players such as Alek Manoah (+$22M), Santiago Espinal (+$19.5M) and Jordan Romano (+$17.8M) also played a significant role in the team's impressive total net value.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Tanner Roark: -$14.4 million
    • SP Hyun Jin Ryu: -$7.2 million
    • RP Brad Hand: -$6.8 million
    • DH Rowdy Tellez: -$5.8 million
    • RP Kirby Yates: -$5.5 million

    Tanner Roark was designated for assignment on April 30 at the onset of his second season of a two-year, $24 million deal. It looked like a low-risk move for a veteran workhorse at the time, but he struggled to a 6.75 ERA in 54.2 innings during his short time in Toronto.

2. San Francisco Giants

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    Brandon Crawford
    Brandon CrawfordThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$271.1 million


    5 Best Values

    • SS Brandon Crawford: +$33.6 million
    • SP Logan Webb: +$29.8 million
    • SP Anthony DeSclafani: +$25.1 million
    • SP Kevin Gausman: +$24.3 million
    • 1B/OF Darin Ruf: +$21.1 million

    Given their bloated salaries and advancing age, 34-year-old Brandon Crawford (+$33.6M), 34-year-old Buster Posey (+$5.8M) and 33-year-old Brandon Belt (+$3.6M) all could have easily been negative values for the Giants in the final year of their respective contracts. Instead, they helped lead the team's charge up the standings, while a pitching staff loaded top-to-bottom with positive value anchored the team's surprising success.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Johnny Cueto: -$14.6 million
    • IF Jason Vosler: -$6.6 million
    • RP Gregory Santos: -$5.6 million
    • SP Sammy Long: -$3.4 million
    • OF Alex Dickerson: -$2.9 million

    Right-hander Johnny Cueto wrapped up a six-year, $130 million contract in 2021, and during his time with the Giants he made 104 appearances and tallied 9.7 WAR. That gives him a net value of roughly minus-$52.4 million over the life of the deal.

1. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Brandon Lowe
    Brandon LoweMike Stobe/Getty Images

    Total Net Value: +$319.6 million


    5 Best Values

    • 2B Brandon Lowe: +$35.1 million
    • OF Randy Arozarena: +$32.2 million
    • IF Joey Wendle: +$28.2 million
    • SS Wander Franco: +$27.7 million
    • C Mike Zunino: +$27.6 million

    With 17 players contributing at least $10 million in net value, including Kevin Kiermaier (+$15.5M), who was the highest-paid player on the team, the Tampa Bay Rays once again squeezed a tremendous amount of value out of a payroll that ranked 26th in the majors. Their organizational philosophy means they should be at the top of these rankings every year.


    5 Worst Values

    • SP Ryan Yarbrough: -$12.7 million
    • SP Michael Wacha: -$8.6 million
    • SP Chris Archer: -$7.3 million
    • 1B Yoshi Tsutsugo: -$6.5 million
    • SP Josh Fleming: -$6.1 million

    Offseason additions Michael Wacha (one year, $3M) and Chris Archer (one year, $6.5M) were both low-risk, high-reward signings that didn't pan out, but there are no long-term repercussions to those contracts. Kiermaier ($12.2M), Mike Zunino ($7M) and Brandon Lowe ($4M) are the only players on the books with guaranteed contracts in 2022.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, while salary information comes courtesy of Spotrac. Arbitration projections via MLB Trade Rumors